Happy As A…….

May 30th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Clam. HG does love that briny bivalve. The love affair began decades ago at the Harbor Rest fast food and sea food joint on Jamaica Bay in New York’s Rockaway Park — at the time, the proletarian Hamptons. HG, 13-years-old, was employed as an oyster and clam shucker (also a peeler and de-veiner of shrimp). HG ate a lot of clams. His mantra: One for the boss and one for me. HG’s oyster passion developed later. Boyish passions subside but not HG’s clam lust. HG ate scores at Lundy’s located at Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay. He downed them at Nathan’s in Coney Island; at Manhattan’s Grand Central Oyster Bar. HG refers to raw clams (cherrystones and little necks ) on the half shell. HG has always fancied clams (and oysters) unadorned. Maybe a modest squeeze of lemon. No beverage but beer. Lundy’s served its raw clams with hot, buttered, straight-from-the oven biscuits — HG never complained.

When HG lived in Colorado HG began his daily lunch at the Palm Restaurant with six little necks (some 1,500 miles from the Atlantic but surprisingly sweet and fresh…go figure). HG has never neglected cooked clams, preferably as part of Italian cuisine….clams posillipo (clam broth enriched with tomatoes); Linguini with white clam sauce; clams casino (light on the bread crumbs, heavy on the garlic, bacon strip optional). HG is not a big clam chowder fan. HG finds New England style overpowers clams and Manhattan style is simply inedible. The best is light clam chowder served at the Legal Seafood chain in New England (an excellent purveyor of clams and oysters).

A great clam dish was sauteed clam bellies at the late, great Gage & Tollner’s in Brooklyn. HG is a fan of the fried soft shell clams available a scores of New England shacks. When resident at the family beach home on Prince Edward Island, HG downs scores of steamers, cleansed in broth and dipped in Tabasco-enhanced melted butter.

As stated in a previous post, the true clam heaven was Fire Island, the magical barrier beach that stretches for miles off Long Island between Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. After a day of Fire Island beach and sea fun, the HG family and friends would arm themselves with buckets and wade into the Bay. It was a clam bonanza. Following would be raw clams, clams casino and BSK’s extraordinary white clam sauce adorning bowls of linguini fini. The HG and BSK dune house overlooked the Bay and Ocean. Sunsets. Infinite whitecaps. Many martinis. Much beer and cheap, cold white wine. A jolly, sunburned time. Happy memories.

Del’s Rhode Island Thirst Quencher

May 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG first encountered the Rhode Island treat, Del’s Frozen Lemonade on the bike path between Warren and Bristol. Steamy July day. Very sweaty HG pedaling away. Dry throat. Sweaty brow. And, like a heavenly vision there was a Del’s lemonade stand at a street crossing. The frozen lemonade was extraordinary. Thirst was conquered by this icy treat which hit the perfect notes between sweet and tart.

Good news. You can order the fixings for Del’s Frozen Lemonade online. Do it and you will be well prepared for the scorching days of summer. And, if you are fortunate enough to live in Brooklyn (rapidly becoming one of the world’s food capitals) you can sample Del’s at Aunt Butchie’s Desserts.

The Delucia family of Rhode Island founded Del’s. The frozen beverage originated in Naples. (Italy, of course, not Florida).

Family Pride. Rhode Island Feasting.

May 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK off to Rhode Island in early June for a big time family celebration. The occasion: Graduation Day for granddaughters—Arianna from Moses Brown (High School) and Sofia from The Gordon School (Middle School). Beautiful, brilliant, funny, delightful young women. HG and BSK’s cup of love and pride runneth over…

So, let’s eat. SJ will be smoking ribs, pork shoulders and brisket. Exquisite Maiko, the daughter-in-law from heaven, will be doing Japanese cuisine (with an assist from grandson Haru). Italian and seafood treats will be handled by daughter Lesley R. and grill master Profesore/Dottore Massimo R. There will be side visits to Hemenway’s for raw oysters and clams on the half shell and possibly a foray to Flo’s Clam Shack for a super fry.

Local treats not to be missed: snail salad, New York System Hot Wieners and the alleged Chow Mein sandwiches at Lee’s Chinese Restaurant.

If time allows HG might knock off a grilled pizza at the bar of Al Forno. Yummy times, indeed.

Peter Hellman Books

May 26th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

For your illumination and enhancement HG provides you with a list of books by Peter Hellman:

(1) Chief!: These are case histories from the files of Al Seedman, former New York Chief of Detectives. Forget TV nonsense. This is the way detectives really work. 

(2) Avenue of the Righteous (Later re-issued and expanded as When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear ): This is a book to read when your opinion of the human race is at a low point. These are the astonishing stories of Christians who, at great risk to their lives, saved Jews during World War Two.

(3) The Auschwitz Album: Lest we forget, this is a rending book — 187 photos of Auschwitz with text by Hellman.

(4) American Wine Handbook: A book that tells you what you need to know if you want to drink great American wines.

(5) Heroes. Tales From the Israeli Wars: Exciting accounts of combat and heroism.

(6) Shaping the Skyline : The story of real estate visionary Julien J. Studley.

Now search for them on Amazon.com and thank me later.

Friends.. Food, Wine And Laughter. Who Could Ask For Anything More?

May 25th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A life enhancing, talented and fun loving quartet has been visiting HG and BSK. Here’s the cast: Donald K. and Bruce M., HG’s and BSK’s former business colleagues. Donald K’s wife, Susan, a former investment banker and Bruce M.’s companion, Theresa T., former senior executive at Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart. These are folks who know and enjoy food and wine. So, what was on the table? Friday night there was a platter of Middle Eastern appetizers and then a Mariscada (Spanish seafood stew) of mussels, shrimp, scallops, much garlic and parsley cooked in fish stock, white wine and the juice from canned asparagus — a surprising secret ingredient gleaned from New York’s El Charro. Washed it down with glasses of Rose, Pinot Grigio and Barbera.

Light salad lunch on Saturday at Santa Fe’s Santacafe. Dinner was a feast at the much posted about “O” — Eating House. Appetizers of fried zucchini and home-made mozzarella with the first stewed cherries of the season; chorizo and roasted garlic; chunks of unusually spiced corn on the cob. Mini portions of strozzapreti (a name which translates to priest stranglers) in a beef cheeks sauce. Main dishes of duck confit and grilled quail accompanied by a sweet corn risotto. Dessert: bread pudding and creme brulee. Much Champagne, San Giovese, Malbec and Chianti flowed (possibly too much flowed in HG’s direction).

Brunch the next day on the sunny terrace featured BSK’s egg and cheese casserole. Farewell dinner tonight at Gabriel’s. Margaritas. Guacamole (best in New Mexico). Fajitas. Charro beans. Sopapillas. Sangria. Flan. Ole!!! And then, sadly, adios.Photo Courtesy of Steven Nereo

The Call of the Soup Dumpling – An SJ addition

May 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Friends…When a Soup Dumpling calls, you might as well just give in, because really there is no escape. A Soup dumpling or a Xiao Long Bao to be proper, is a pork and crab meatball wrapped in a pleated wrapper of flour dough which is then steamed. The meatball is infused with a solidified ge’lee of broth, so that when it steams, this ge’lee reverts back to soup. When properly made (which is tough as a lot can go wrong! A soup dumpling requires MAXIMUM timing, freshness and technique) the end product hits the pinnacle of taste sensations; silken wrappers, rich soup, delectable meatball. When I first encountered this treat back in the late 90s at the famous Joe’s Shanghai, I went crazy. I found myself there at least twice a week with steamer after steamer arriving to fulfill my seemingly unquenchable Xiao Long Bao lust. I became an expert at deftly transporting the delicate dumpling from steamer to spoon without rupturing the delicate skin and losing the soup; I developed a methodology of cooling, adding ginger, red chile, malt vinegar and finally slurping that maximized my enjoyment — a methodology I adhere to and try to extort others to follow. Witness the family of Texans that told me to “mind your own business! We know how to eat!” when I tried to explain the ground rules of soup dumpling etiquette as they were attacking their treasures with forks and losing all the unctuous broth. In short I had a problem, and that problem took me a few years to finally reign it in. Which I did…Barely.

There is a new restaurant that has opened up on Bowery, right by the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. I pass it every day. Right above the door is a grand billboard, a high resolution image of a perfect Soup Dumpling — white wrapper crested with the orange roe of a Hairy Crab. You can sense the soup bubbling inside, the heat and deliciousness coming together…

It took only two days. I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed my wife, Exquisite Maiko and headed for lunch at our favorite Soup Dumpling spot, Shanghai Cafe. I would have tried, and will try the new spot — but when the call of the dumpling was this severe, I could not risk disappointment.

When the first steamer basket arrived Exquisite Maiko and I sighed. Eight perfect dumplings encased in steam. I lifted the first up, gently placed it on my spoon and nipped off the top of the dumpling. Using a spoon (which you have to ask for!) I dripped some vinegar and shredded ginger into the center of my dumpling. Preparing myself for the scalding, delectable heat, I then slurped up the broth. With something that can only be described as sensual, that rich broth flooded my senses…I took a breath and then devoured the dumpling skin and the interior meatball. Silken. Rich. Layers of pork flavors mingling with the heady inclusion of crab and that final tang of vinegar. A perfect bite. A bite for the ages.

The soup dumpling had called. We had answered. Let the obsession roll once again!

Another Good Thing From our Wooly Friends

May 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Feta cheese made from sheep’s milk is good stuff. Great, pungent semi-salty taste. Low cal. Zero or modest cholesterol. HG likes it many ways. A chunk splashed with Sicilian or Calabrian olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar. Accompanied by warm pita, sliced tomatoes and warmed pita. In an omelet. Sprinkled over a green salad. Over pasta with sauteed zucchini and onions. Nice companion to middle eastern eggplant dishes like Baba Ganoush HG counsel: Stick with the sheep feta. Much better than the cow or goat product.

Wine Cheapo HG Is Vindicated

May 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

If you drink wine (and if you read HG, of course you do) don’t miss Peter Hellman’s article “Wine–It’s All In Your Head” in the May 15th New York Post. Hellman does an analysis of our fine wine culture (taste surveys, expert opinions, etc.) and comes up with the conclusion that cheaper wine is often preferable to higher priced quaffs. It all depends on context — where you are drinking, what you are eating; even who your company is.

HG has long felt that his wine palate rules and is not influenced by price, reputation or the opinion of an overbearing sommelier. During these lovely springtime New Mexico days, HG begins drinking Le Ferme Julien Rose at sunset and continues until the first star appears. Then HG makes the transition to a robust red. La Ferme Julien Rose is a blend of Cinsault (50%), Grenache (40%) and Syrah (10%). HG likes it better than Tavel or any of the pricier Roses from Provence and Spain. The Perrin family blends the wine from grapes grown on Mont Vertoux in the Rhone Valley of France. Six bucks a bottle and a true delight.

Talking of delights, check Peter Hellman’s books on Amazon.com. He has written informatively, passionately and brilliantly on everything from The Holocaust, the trials and triumphs of Israel, real estate, crime, music, finance, food,design, etc. Look for his wine articles in The Wine Spectator and Wall Street Journal. A toast to you, Peter, of modestly priced wine,of course.

Summertime Squid Salad – A Quick Treat.

May 18th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG loves squid. Tasty. Healthy. Low calorie. Most restaurants serve calamari as a deep fried mess that tastes something like a KFC chicken that drowned in the Atlantic. In a previous post, HG noted that the key to tasty squid is quick cooking. Here’ a nice Summer salad idea from HG. Cut squid into rings and tentacles. Bring a pot of water to a raging boil. Toss the calamari into the pot for one minute. Retrieve the calamari and plunge the rings and tentacles into icy water to stop the cooking. Throw some Soba noodles (or vermicelli) into the boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and rinse in very cold water to stop the cooking. Top the noodles with the squid and gently toss with sesame oil, fish sauce, chopped herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro, mint). Squeeze some lemon on the dish. Have some invaluable sriracha on the table for a squeeze of heat. Serve with sliced cucumber and top it all with scallions. Icy La Ferme Julien rose would be a nice companion.

Impromptu. Unexpected. Improvised. Excellent.

May 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Yesterday, Colorado State Senator Gail S., probably the state’s smartest and hardest working legislator (a Dem, of course), was busy attending to government matters near the New Mexico border. Accompanied by her husband, the brilliant lawyer Alan S., one of HG’s favorite dining companions (they shared an epic feast at Le Dome in Paris). Last minute phone call and these delightful people shared an improvised, tossed together dinner Chez HG and BSK. Flutes of Prosecco on the terrace. Then a platter of sheep feta, Kalamata olives, Kumato tomatoes, sliced sweet onions — all showered with basil and olive oil. Main course was linguine with a sauce of Spanish tuna, sauteed onions and garlic, tomatoes, capers and Italian parsley. Mighty good. (Top flight Italian or Spanish tuna is imperative for this dish). A loaf of Santa Fe Farmers Market sour dough bread enhanced the meal. Cotes du Rhone red wine. Mango sorbet for dessert.

Illuminating talk about the eccentricities of southwest USA politics and the proclivity of the French ruling classes to walk away with impunity from shocking charges of venality and corruption.